Gettin’ purdy up here in God’s Country. Was up on Mt. Kearsarge yesterday feasting my peepers on a prime crop of autumn foliage below. Check it out:
We’re lucky that we ended up settling down up here in New Hampster. S’ppose, for ezzample, that I ended up in New Jerbel, several states south of us. New Jerbel, like my native Gawga, are both good places to be from, but not to be in.
Yep, I grew up in Gawga, loved it so much that I quit high school when I was 17 and joined the Navy, primarily so I could live somewhere, anywhere, outside of Georgia. Compared to being a teenager in Georgia during the 70’s, being a teenage sailor in the U.S. Navy was a liberating experience.
I’ve always been deeply conflicted about the Southland. I respect the Confederacy, believe they exercised the right of legal secession, just as any state or group of states today could because the Federal gubmint is merely a creature of the states, not vice versa. But Lincoln, the Anti-Christ of presidents, turned this concept of constitutional Federalism on its head. Think about it: 13 British colonies, the lawful property of the British crown, rebelled against their king and we properly revere those men as patriots and Founders. Yet, when the Southern states declared they were withdrawing from a Union into which they had voluntarily entered and lawfully seceded from Congress, Lincoln gave them four years of fire and sword ending with Sherman’s march to the sea. If you condemn the Southern Secession from the Union, then you must be consistent and condemn the American Revolution. I applaud both as righteous struggles against tyranny. The South just happened to lose their struggle so history wrote them a different story.
To call the Southern war of Secession a “Civil War” is to mindlessly parrot government propaganda. In a civil war, you have two parties fighting for control of the same land. Russia and France had civil wars. The South didn’t want to take over the North, they simply wanted to be left the hell alone from Yankee meddlers and burdensome overtaxation imposed on them by the more populous Northern states. We don’t allow the phrase “Civil War” in our house–that conflict is properly referred to as the War of Yankee Aggression.
Although my ideological roots are Southern, my genetic roots are far removed. I am a second generation American of Scots-Irish and Greek extraction. It’s my Greek heritage that makes me an alien in the South and, ironically, much more comfortable in Yankeeland. Southerners tend to be very conformist. The Southern pecking order is that the best are Baptists; Methodists and Presbyterians are tolerated; Catholics are instruments of Satan; and Greek Orthodox, such as myself, well, we must be Zeus-worshipping pagans ‘cuz whoever heard o’ such nonsense. I actually had one of my school teachers tell me this!
And then there’s appearance. “True southerners” have straight hair, parted on the side, and preferably blue eyes. Kinky headed, dark-haired, brown-eyed, glasses wearing guys like me were accused of being Jewish (*gasp*) and never had a chance of being one of the true “good ol’ boys.” In high school, while the good ol’ boys played football and stuffed Skoal in their mouths, I usually hung out with the Jewish kids, talking about politics and playing chess.
So you can see how I’m deeply conflicted over the South. On the one hand, I fervently believe that the South had, and has, the right to secession as does any state or group of states. On the other hand, growing up in the South was just one long cultural and social gulag. I was treated better as an enlisted sailor in the U.S. Navy, an instrument of Yankee power, and felt more a part of it than I did any part of the South in all my years growing up there. Would you like fries with that serving of irony?
I’ve always thought of myself as a Southerner; I’ve come to realize that I am not. I am a Yankee who, through a quirk of fate, happened to grow up in the South and, in so doing, acquired some uniquely Southern notions about federalism and state’s rights.
Today, I see Yankees doing what Yankees have always done–meddling in other people’s affairs and telling people how they ought to live. We saw this in Waco, Serbia, South America, and most recently, we see it in Iraq. The world is full of bad guys, always has been, always will be. And until one of those bad guys threatens our vital American interest, it’s not worth expending American blood and treasure chasing some neo-con utopian dream of “waging Democracy” on people who haven’t the first clue about what self-government is all about. We used to know what self-government was before we became vassals of Big Brother through things like the Income Tax, Social(ist) (In)Security, gun control, fiat currency taken off the gold standard, and the Patriot Act.
Just as the over-reaching ambitions of all historical empires precipitated their demise, history will show that the current war in Iraq marked the beginning of the end of the American Empire. And then, like the Phoenix rising out of the ashes, the South shall rise again. Not the geographic South, but the Southern spirit of independence, decentralized government, and local control.
It’s pretty damn amazing what you can see in Autumn leaves. Enjoy the foliage!